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October 9, 2015

Torchwood: Adam

by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 24th 2008 3:00PM
Torchwood -
If you're one of those people who believes what I tell you then I apologize. As was corrected in the comments last week, this episode was not the one that featured the start of Freema Ageyman's run on Torchwood, reprising her Doctor Who role of Martha Jones. That one is next week. Instead we got a fantastic one-off episode that not only got into the inner workings of the personalities that make up the Torchwood team, but that also showed us some of Jack's mysterious past.

Much of the mystique of Captain Jack Harkness' character comes in the complexity and mystery of his life, a man from the far-off future who became immortal (at least it seems that way) while with The Doctor, subsequently wound up in the mid-nineteenth century only to live on to the present. This long life has shaped his history, but apparently memories of his early life in the future are lost to him.

The episode opened with a truly heartwarming and joyous scene with Rhys and Gwen. Clearly the events of the last episode, in which Rhys was brought in on exactly what it is that Gwen and Torchwood are all about, has done wonders for their previously strained relationship, and it was very nice to see. It also made the following events even more tragic.

The question of the night was: "Who is Adam?" When Gwen arrived at work on Monday morning after a weekend off to find him and everyone else there, she sure as hell didn't know. But he'd just been saying he's been a part of the team for three years? Then he touched her shoulder and said "Remember?" filling her head with three years of memories. What's this guy up to and how did he find out about Torchwood?

Apparently he'd been making himself at home in their memories, even going so far as to manufacture a relationship between himself and Tosh, setting today as the one year anniversary of their first kiss. Meanwhile, Owen is a shadow of his former-self mired with insecurity and pining for Tosh. All the while she's showing more confidence (and cleavage!) than ever before. The confidence looked good on her but her treatment of Owen, which exactly mirrored his recent treatment of her in prior episodes this year, was difficult to watch. A testament to both actors that they reversed their character's personalities so convincingly.

Whatever Adam's motivations may be, there are apparently very horrible possible side effects to his memory manipulations, as Rhys finds out when Gwen pulls a gun on him demanding to know who he is. The showrunners did a good job of making things very confusing as we tried to figure out what was going on. When Gwen called Jack over to the house, I wasn't sure if Jack was going to recognize Rhys either considering Adam had clearly been in his mind as well.

I love that Rhys has grown into a substantial member of the extended Torchwood story. I think the outside world and semblance of normalcy that he, and by extension his relationship with Gwen, offers is an important contrast to the world in which Torchwood normally resides. It helps to put a perspective on the fantastic experiences they have as well as a face to the world they are protecting with their actions. Having him and Gwen get engaged and their relationship blossom into one of truer love is a wonderful development for those characters as well as the underlying tension between Gwen and Jack. Whether it's one-sided or not, there is some kind of a love there.

Meanwhile, the impact of Adam's imprints on Jack involve strange visions of a boy. Visions that lead him toward memories he's afraid to relive. Adam shows up while Jack is struggling with those memories and lies his way into Jack's confidence, "I've always been with you, Jack. From the beginning. I'm the one you can confide in."

But Jack isn't ready to face the pains of his youth, "It was meant to be buried. I buried that memory over a hundred and fifty years ago. I can't afford to remember." And we get a true look at Jack's early life in the 51st Century. He talks about how his family lived under the threat of invasion from "the most horrible creatures you could possibly imagine." And much like Hitchcock before them, the creators thought it would be better for us, as well as the budget, if they didn't show the invaders but rather allowed us to visualize the most horrible thing we could think of. During the screeching, I kept picturing giant Rosie O'Donnell and Roseanne Barr fighting over a cheeseburger overhead.

The memory that Jack had fought so hard to bury was the greatest shame of his life. Tasked with hanging onto his little brother during the invasion, the two got separated when Gray, his little brother, tripped and fell. Jack didn't even notice at first and by the time he did, Gray was gone. Jack spent years searching but never found him, and never forgave himself for losing him.

It was fascinating to explore the reversal in Tosh and Owen this episode. As I said earlier, she was dressing much sexier, laughing and being more light-hearted in general. She was completely cold-hearted toward Owen's feelings, much like he has been with hers. At the same time, Owen had turned into Tosh. He sported his glasses all the time, his hair sensibly restrained. He was quiet and studious and socially awkward and painfully pining for Toshiko. In the scene where he told her how he loved her, including discussing how he ached quite literally for her, she retorted with: "How dare you, I'm with Adam. And even if I wasn't, you're not my type. And never will be." And that is exactly the kind of thing Owen used to say to her.

What I want to know is--Adam can implant memories and was able to manufacture a long relationship between himself and Tosh, but did he put those unrequited feelings into Owen as a sort of torture? Or are those true feelings buried deep within the true Owen that were able to escape once Adam had, as he put it, removed his cynicism?

Everything started to unravel for Adam when during research of an artifact that no one could quite remember or figure out, Ianto decided to go and check his diaries. In doing so, he discovered that Adam wasn't in them and ultimately figured out that Adam not only wasn't who he said he was but possibly posed some kind of threat to the team. Too bad Adam was right there. Speaking of which, wasn't it a little overly convenient that Adam was always right where he needed to be at any given time. There was no indication that he could read minds or teleport so how the hell did he pull that off?

When Ianto started to reject the memories Adam had implanted into him, Adam's hand wavered like a holographic projection. "What are you?," Ianto asked. To stop Ianto telling Jack, Adam did one of the most clever and horrific things; implanted fake memories of Ianto attacking and murdering three women. He even put himself in the stories as the guy who helped Ianto dump the bodies. What he failed to account for was Ianto's innate goodness and sense of morality.

While Adam was confidently having his way with Tosh on their "anniverasry," an anguished Ianto confessed to Jack his murders. In a way, I suppose it was Jack's love for Ianto that saved the day, as despite beating a lie detector test and his own conviction of his guilt, Jack insistently refused to believe the kind and gentle Ianto capabe of the horrific acts he said he'd committed.

Inevitably, the jig was up and Adam was subsequently captured and imprisoned downstairs next to the Weevil. The team's true selves and identities could be restored by having them focus on a memory that encapsulates their lives and taking a short-term amnesia pill. As Adam feeds on memories, as the team falls asleep and begins to forget him, he struggles to stay alive. In a last-ditch attempt to save his own skin, as he will apparently die if they all forget him (not sure how that works exactly since he existed before they even knew him) Adam tried to convince Jack he can give him back the last good memory he had of his dad, who had died in the aforementioned invasion.

It was difficult to watch (even though I saw it coming a mile away and thought Jack would too as he's usually pretty cynical) when Adam interfered with the memory, changing it and ruining that last good day between Jack, Gray and their dad. Now his negotiation tactic was blackmail, and any chance of his being a sympathetic character was gone. Now he was a monster, on par with remorseless criminals in our own societies. Adam warns that if Jack takes the pill and kills him, his memories of his father and brother will disappear and die with Adam. Is there any question what Jack did?

There were some great character moments in this, particularly the tender and fatherly way in which Jack reached out to each member of his team when giving them the amnesia pills that would save their former memories and lives. It was an incredibly emotional scene as we got to see what moments make up the cores of these people's personalities. And once restored, it was tragic to see Tosh once again the bundle of neuroses being treated horribly by Owen, even if it was the same thing the Adam-liberated Tosh was doing. Hopefully some residue of how he'd changed them can maybe lead them to their own character growth as I'd like to see Owen less of a jerk and Tosh more confident.

Also, the teases of an apparent deepening relationship between Jack and lanto were a nice touch. Jack needed to find someone whom he could really open up to and love, and while I find myself doubting he's opened up to Ianto in regards to all the secrets he's been holding close to his chest for a couple hundred years now, at least he's lowering his walls a bit and letting someone in.

As for the end, where the artifact was opened to reveal dust, I'm not really sure what that was supposed to mean. Was that, perhaps, where Adam's true body was living? Or maybe I missed something altogether

[edited to address various points brought up in the posts; thanks guys!]

Do you think Tosh and Owen will ever get together?
Yes, I think eventually101 (49.0%)
No, because Tosh will get over him23 (11.2%)
No, because Owen will never change43 (20.9%)
No, because they'll each find someone else39 (18.9%)

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Cold Chilli

I thought it was Sand coming out of the box at the end of the episode. Adam said those memories were in the box.

On a side I think BBC mixed up for the good. I had 2 Torch Wood's recorded from my Tivo. The second with Martha Jones titled "Replay". I haven't watched it yet

February 25 2008 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cold Chilli's comment

Nah. That happened on my end too. It's just the Adam episode again. The rebroadcast was mis labeled.

February 25 2008 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't think it was dust in the box at the end. I thought it was sand from the beach of Jack's last day with his brother and his father.

February 25 2008 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You forgot to mention the sand in the box at the end, which could have implied that the memories weren't faked?

February 25 2008 at 3:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to DarthPaul's comment
Akbar Fazil

I thought the sand was there as a peace offering of such from Adam to Jack. As in "ok... sorry I screwed with all of your heads so here is a small reminder of your lost memory."

February 25 2008 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How would he have put it there if he hadn't known before?
He did say he was looking for Jack.

I'm really enjoying this series, much better than the last one

February 25 2008 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ummm Owen won't be getting with anyone anytime soon lmao

February 25 2008 at 1:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First you said:

"Adam was always right where he needed to be at any given time. There was no indication that he could read minds or teleport so how the hell did he pull that off?"

But I think you answered your own question when you said:

"When Ianto started to reject the memories Adam had implanted into him, Adam's hand wavered like a holographic projection. "

I think Adam was connected to the people he implanted memories into and was feeding off of their memories as well, as evidenced when he told Jack that they had some of the most colorful memories. I would imagine that when one of them starts to doubt, remember or reject the implanted memories, he would know and seek them out.

As for the mix up where you thought this week would be the one where Martha Jones would show up, my Direct TV Tivo recorded this episode, but also recorded the rebroadcast, only the rebroadcast was titled and had the synopsis of the Martha Jones episode, so someone in programming made a boo boo.

February 25 2008 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Oscar Gordon

Two things that I want to know: Rhys never got an amnesia pill - what happens when he asks Gwen about the events in the episode? And Captain John's (Jams Marsters) last words -"By the way - I found Grey" - twisting the knife in Jack, or hints of events to come?

February 25 2008 at 12:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

J.T. I'm with you on the Jack/Gwen thing. I hate that Jack's almost-relationship with Gwen seems to have more weight than his current-relationship with Ianto. Yet, I wonder if Gwen truly loves Jack, or she loves what he represents 'secret knowledge' and 'excitement' a la the Doctor. I loved this episode. Although I felt that Tosh played neurotic better than Owen, I wonder if Owen is running from Tosh, b/c as he mentioned in his final moment he's afraid of trusting. Perhaps, being with Tosh means having to give up those layers, hence his avoidance/cruelty. It's interesting that when Jack told them to return to a defining memory, all their memories were negative, save Gwen, (yet what appears to 'define' her is her relationship with Rhys) - Good acting, altho' JB seemed stretched in places. Save last week's ep, I'm loving season 2 -

February 24 2008 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Something that stuck with me was when, as she took the amnesia pill, Gwen told Jack she would always love Rhys, but never in the way that she loved him.
It should be interesting to see this whole Gwen / Jack/ Ianto / Rhys thing play out, especially with Capt. John Hart and the Doctor both having places in Jack's heart , too.

February 24 2008 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The author forgot to mention the connection between Jack and Gwen.

Also, it was Gwen that asked for Jack in her apartment, not Rhys

February 24 2008 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Stewart


Shouldn't this be (S02E05)

February 24 2008 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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